Army gets Central nod for action against Bodo ultras

Govt also outlaws NDFB, factions for five years

Army gets Central nod for action against Bodo ultras

The Centre on Friday gave the Army the go-ahead to intensify its operations against militants of National Democratic Front of Bodoland (Songbijit), or the NDFB(S),—the Bodo militant group responsible for the killing of more than 70 people in Assam this week. It also extended the ban on the outfit by another five years.

The decision came as Army Chief Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. “We are definitely going to intensify our operations in Assam,” Suhag told reporters after the meeting.

The home minister, who was in the troubled state for the past two days, and Suhag had a detailed discussion on the situation. “The meeting was to review the security situation in Assam,” said Suhag.

Sixty-six Army columns (4,620 personnel) have been deployed in Assam for counter-insurgency operations. The GoC of 4 Corps, located in the worst-hit Sonitpur district, heads the Unified Command which conducts the counter-insurgency operations in Assam.

A senior official said Singh asked the Army chief to ensure that there is no flare-up in the state. Suhag has also been asked to increase Army presence in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya, where NDFB militants have footholds.

New Delhi has also sought assistance from the Bhutan government to nab NDFB(S) militants who purportedly set up bases in the dense forests along the Indo-Bhutan border.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj spoke to Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay and requested him to cooperate with the Indian Army and paramilitary forces’ offensives against the Bodo militants. Tobgay assured Sushma of all possible support.
Noting that combating terrorism was a “national endeavour”, Ministry of External

Affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said Sushma was also trying to reach out to “other friendly neighbouring countries” to seek assistance for the offensive against the NDFB(S).

“This issue came up following possible leads which indicated that there may be others beyond Indian borders where we require assistance,” said Akbaruddin.

Meanwhile, the Centre has already issued a notification declaring all factions of the NDFB outlawed organisations under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The home ministry has approached a tribunal set up by the Delhi High Court for the ratification of its order.

The NDFB was first banned on November 23, 2002.

In Assam, there was a fresh incident where NDFB(S) militants lobbed a grenade at SSB personnel and exchanged fire with them in Chirang district along the Indo-Bhutan border.

In Karnataka, Union Minister of State for Home Kiran Rijiju said the Bodo militants were supported by foreign forces, and sourced their arms and ammunition from them.
Speaking to mediapersons during a visit to MP Prahlad Joshi’s residence in Hubballi on Friday, Rijiju said the Centre was not interested in holding talks with the extremists.

“The Army will not rest till it destroys the Bodo militants, who have launched a proxy war against India. We will hunt each one of the Bodo activists who killed the innocent tribals, and eliminate them,” he said.

The failure to stop the attack was not the failure of the intelligence, said Rijiju.
The intelligence department had tipped off the police about the Bodo extremists’ plan to attack at three places. But the security forces could not reach there with arms and other security equipment due to extreme weather and rough terrain. Better roads would be laid to tribal habitats in future, he said.

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